Thursday was a weird day for the New York Mets. Yes, the on-field demonstration by the Mets and Marlins players was powerful: they stood up for 42 seconds and then departed the field just before their scheduled game, only to leave a Black Lives Matter shirt on the diamond. But a few things happened that will sure create some tension in the organization.
It all started with a misunderstanding early in the day. General manager Brodie van Wagenen was the victim of a hot mic moment, as he was captured on video (livestreamed to Mets.com) criticizing Commissioner Rob Manfred’s leadership after he thought the idea that was being discussed, which was leave the field at 7:10 pm to return to play an hour later, would go against the players’ desire not to play.
“That leadership level, he doesn’t get it,” Van Wagenen said on the leaked video while talking with two people. “He just doesn’t get it.”
Here’s video of Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen discussing a plan in which he says MLB wanted the Mets to take the field, leave it and return an hour later. Van Wagenen is critical of the idea and commissioner Rob Manfred, saying: “He just doesn’t get it.” (Video via @NickCocco18) pic.twitter.com/46Z9neVkJt
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 27, 2020
“Baseball’s trying to come up with a solution, saying, ‘Oh, you know what would be super powerful — the three of us here, [this information] can’t leave this room — you know it’d be really great if you just have them all take the field and then they leave the field and then they come back and play at 8:10,” Van Wagenen said on the video. “And I was like, ‘What?’ ”
But a few hours after the incident, he said he misunderstood the whole deal and that the idea of returning to play one hour after the initially scheduled time belonged to New York Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon, who didn’t know at that moment that the players agreed not to play at all on Thursday night.
The Mets’ GM apologized to Manfred for involving him, erroneously, in the situation.
“My frustration with the Commissioner was wrong and unfounded. I apologize to the Commissioner for my disrespectful comments and poor judgement in inaccurately describing the contents of his private conversation with Jeff Wilpon,” Van Wagenen said. “… I didn’t have the tone or the context to it. … It wasn’t Rob and his leadership that was requiring or suggesting or mandating anything by the stretch of the imagination. … I recognize that it was a disrespectful move to his office and to him.”
The Mets’ owners heavily criticize their GM
CEO Fred Wilpon bashed Van Wagenen for his comments. “I am very stressed and disappointed to learn tonight that our General Manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, made disrespectful and inaccurate comments about our Commissioner, a long-time close friend of mine. I hold Rob in the highest regard and in no way are Brod[ie]’s remarks reflective of my views or the organization’s,” he said in a statement. “Rob continues to be a great leader of Major League Baseball. I apologize for any harm this incident has caused Rob.”
Separately, Jeff Wilpon also released a statement, again aimed at the Mets’ GM. “To clear up any misunderstandings, it was my suggestion to potentially look into playing the game later because of scheduling issues,” he said. “Brod[ie]’s misunderstanding of a private conversation was and is inexcusable.”
It raised some eyebrows that Jeff Wilpon spelled Van Wagenen’s first name as “Brody.”
In the end, Van Wagenen owned up to his mistake. According to the New York Post, he said:
“I hold myself personally responsible for this. Hot mic or not hot mic, I made comments that damaged the reputation of the commissioner, that hurt the New York Mets organization. But my apology goes beyond just to the people I may have damaged, but more that my name and my face and this zoom conference is part of the conversation today,” Van Wagenen said. “This conversation is about the players making a statement. This conversation is about recognizing the pain and the anguish that black people are experiencing every day in this country. the fact that I’ve put myself and this organization in the conversation in a way that takes away from the real point, I’m disappointed in myself … and I accept responsibility for that.”
Overall, a day to forget for the Mets.